Mooseheart Crew prepares for next assignment of 2022 fire season

On Sunday morning, Bureau of Land Management Alaska Fire Service employee Hudson Plass inspected the Mooseheart Crew so it could be made available for its next fire assignment of the 2022 season.

The inspection ensured that the crew had all its required equipment, including hard hats, gloves, eye protection, flame-resistant clothing, tools, fire shelters, and chainsaws. Plass also checked each firefighter’s Incident Qualification Card – known in the wildland fire world as a “red card” – to confirm all their mandatory training is current. 

Members of the Mooseheart Crew undergo an equipment inspection prior to their assignment to the Clear Fire. CREDIT: Andy Gray/BLM AFS

The Mooseheart Crew is one of Rural Metro Fire’s two contract 20-person Type 2 hand crews. It is made up of firefighters from Tanana, Minto and Rampart. It takes its name from Mooseheart Mountain, which is south of the three villages.

The crew recently completed its first 2022 assignment on the East Fork Fire near St. Mary’s. On that 15-day assignment the crew protected structures, installed sprinkler systems and built contingency fire lines that would serve as control lines if the fire grew larger. Hudson expressed his appreciation for the positive feedback he heard from incident personnel on the East Fork Fire, who praised the crew for its great work and professionalism. The crew enjoyed four days off between its last assignment and Sunday. Several crew members attended the memorial potlatch in Tanana this weekend prior to assembling in Fairbanks on Sunday.

The Mooseheart Crew is under the leadership of 63-year-old Crew Boss Clifford Alexander from Minto. Clifford has been a firefighter for forty years, a crew boss for twenty years, and the Mooseheart crew boss for three years. Clifford also has two seasons of experience as a member of the Bureau of Land Management Alaska Fire Service Midnight Sun Hotshot crew in the 1980s.

The Mooseheart Crew is under the leadership of 63-year-old Crew Boss Clifford Alexander, right, from Minto. Clifford has been a firefighter for forty years, a crew boss for twenty years, and the Mooseheart crew boss for three years. CREDIT: Andy Gray/BLM AFS

On Mooseheart’s next assignment of the 2022 season, Crew Boss Trainee Harris Hyslop will be leading the crew under Clifford’s watchful eye. Clifford feels it is important for younger crewmembers to gain experience in positions of leadership so they can become fully qualified to lead crews of their own.

In 2021, the Mooseheart Crew completed two 14-day assignments in Montana during the summer and then two 14-day assignments in Northern California later in the year. To avoid fatigue, firefighters are required to take two days day off every two weeks, so the Mooseheart Crew took a two-day “R & R” break between each 14-day assignment.

Rural Metro Fire, the contractor that provides the Mooseheart Crew to the BLM, also assigns a seasoned firefighter crew representative to accompany each of its crews. This person for handles administrative matters for the crew and looks out for their welfare. Crew representative Andrew Foster and trainee crew rep Aaron Head are assigned to the crew for its upcoming assignment.

After Hudson signed-off on the crew’s readiness for wildland fire duty on Sunday, the crew was assigned to the Clear Fire near the town of the Anderson. Another Rural Metro Fire contract crew, Big River Crew, is assigned to the same fire.  

In 2020, the BLM AFS began awarding contracts for Type 2 crews based in the Upper Yukon and Tanana fire management zones. This was later expanded to the Galena Zone. The scope of the program for 2022 is to field seven crews. Currently four crews are available or on assignment.

Yellow clad firefighters digging in dirt in a burned forest.
Mooseheart Crew firefighters Devron Thompson of Mountain Village and Donald Sanders of Marshall do suppression repair work on the Dixie Fire on Oct. 8, 2021. CREDIT: Beth Ipsen/BLM AFS

Unlike federal emergency firefighter (EFF) crews that are hired on an as-needed basis, contracted crews allow for work outside of fire suppression, such as fuels mitigation and other funded projects. Contract crews may also provide more stable employment than the prior EFF program. The contract crews adhere to national qualifications for Type 2 hand crews and can be ordered for wildfire response in Alaska and the Lower 48.

Considering the changing requirements for EFFs, the contract crew concept intends to meet the need for Type 2 wildland firefighting crews available for response in Alaska and the Lower 48. The solicitation was a competitive process for qualified entities to ensure viable crews are available when called upon.

For more information on the BLM AFS contract firefighter crew program, please contact: Hudson Plass at or 907-482-0474.    

Categories: AK Fire Info

Tags: , , , , ,

%d bloggers like this: